Human Decisions & Policy Design Seminar Series

This is a seminar series initiated by the Human Decisions and Policy Design research theme at the School of Business and Economics (SBE), Maastricht University. The research theme is a highly interdisciplinary group of about 30 core and affiliated researchers from Finance, Economics, Marketing and Accounting departments within SBE. The leader of the theme is Prof. Lisa Brüggen. The seminar series is jointly organised by Dr. Anouk Festjens, Dr. Katlijn Haesebrouck, Dr. Jona Linde, and myself.

Here is a list of upcoming talks.


October 21, 2019:

Speaker: Pedro Bordalo, Said Business School, University of Oxford
Venue: TS53 A1.22
Title: Expectations and Stock Market Puzzles


November 13, 2019:

Speaker: Camelia Kuhnen, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina
Venue: TBA
Title: TBA


Below is a list of past talks.

November 21, 2018, at 14:00:

Speaker: Peter Wakker, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Venue: TS53 C-1.09
Title: Measuring Ambiguity Attitudes for All (Natural) Events (with Aurélien Baillon, Han Bleichrodt, & Chen Li)


Uncertainties usually don’t come with objective statistical probabilities, and subjective probabilities usually don’t work either (Ellsberg 1961).  Gilboa & Schmeidler’s break-through brought fundamentally new models, opening up the field of ambiguity, sorely needed in behavioral disciplines.  Ambiguity attitudes have so far been measured almost exclusively for artificial events (Ellsberg urns and experimenter-specified probability intervals) because researchers did not know how to control for unknown beliefs otherwise.  Ellsberg (2011) and many others emphasized the importance of extending to natural events as in applications and everyday life.  By showing how to control for beliefs even if unknown, we provide this extension.  Ambiguity attitudes can now be measured for natural events, greatly enhancing external validity.
            We introduce indexes of ambiguity aversion and ambiguity perception (or sensitivity) for natural events that are easy to measure in experiments, taking only a few minutes.  Thus, they can easily be used as an add-on in regressions.  We prove that our indexes generalize and unify many indexes proposed before under various ambiguity theories, including multiple priors and prospect theory.  Our indexes generalize their predecessors by: (a) being directly observable; (b) not requiring expected utility for risk; (c) being valid for a large number of ambiguity theories; (d) requiring no assessment of subjective likelihoods and, hence, which is our main novelty, (e) being applicable to natural ambiguities.
            Because time pressure has recently been introduced in experimental economics to control cognitive factorsfollowing decades of use in psychologywe apply our indexes to examine the role of ambiguity attitudes on behavior under time pressure in an experiment.  We find plausible results, supporting validity.  For natural events, the cognitive perception/sensitivity of ambiguity is more important, and the motivational aversion is less pronounced, than for artificial Ellsberg events.

February 7, 2019:

Speaker: Victor Mass, University of Amsterdam
Venue: C-1.07
Title: You promoted who? Managers’ strategic promotion decisions and the effects of group incentives and transparency.

Abstract: We investigate managers’ tendency to strategically influence performance evaluations that affect promotion decisions. One important distinction between performance evaluations that inform promotion decisions and evaluations that are only used to allocate tangible rewards is that employees who earn a promotion will leave the manager’s unit, such that their effort and skill will no longer benefit the manager. Strategic promotion decisions occur when managers provide biased recommendations, resulting in an increased probability that low performing employees are promoted up and out of their unit, and a decreased probability that excellent employees are promoted. We develop theory about how two crucial design variables of the organization’s control system, compensation system design (group versus individual incentives) and transparency about individual performance levels, affect managers’ tendency to strategically influence promotion decisions. Our experimental data confirm that the extent to which managers engage in such behavior depends on the presence or absence of a group incentive scheme and on transparency about individual performance levels.

February 20, 2019:

Speaker: Bertil Tungodden, Norwegian School of Economics
Venue: A1.23
Title: Beliefs about Behavioral Responses to Taxation

Abstract: We conduct an experiment to study how beliefs about behavioral responses to taxation and preferences over equality–efficiency trade-offs relate to the political disagreement on redistribution. We use a novel method to elicit incentivized beliefs from a sample of 13,900 Americans about how taxes affect people’s effort choices, and we elicit incentivized equality–efficiency preferences. We find that Democrats and Republicans have virtually identical beliefs about behavioral responses to taxation. Furthermore, we find that beliefs about behavioral responses to taxation fail to predict people’s support for equalization of incomes in society. Equality– efficiency preferences, by contrast, strongly predict both people’s political affiliation and their support for equalization of incomes in society. We also explore the role of motivated beliefs and identity politics by priming respondents about the political disagreement on redistribution. The treatments increase political polarization in preferences, but do not polarize beliefs. Our findings suggest that the political divide on redistribution relates more to people’s preferences than to their beliefs about the behavioral responses to taxation.

Jointly organised with L&W and ETBC seminar series.

April 29, 2019:

Speaker: Hilke Plassmann, INSEAD
Venue: TBA
Title: Neural Basis of Dietary Self-Control and its Application to Obesity

Abstract: In the first part, I review previous work done in neuroeconomics on modelling dietary self-control and what role the brain’s reward system plays. I then show examples on how these brain models can be applied to investigate potential self-control variations in obesity and whether and how they could be linked to homeostatic systems of food intake control in the gut. Lastly, I share first results on how successful weight loss interventions affect this gut-brain interplay of neurobiological systems involved in the control of dietary choices.